close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.
Special Features

Crowds on Public Transport Despite Tehran Lockdown

November 22, 2020
Pouyan Khoshhal
6 min read
Just before lockdowns went into effect across Iran, the deputy health minister for research and the newly-appointed secretary of the Coronavirus Advisory Council resigned
Just before lockdowns went into effect across Iran, the deputy health minister for research and the newly-appointed secretary of the Coronavirus Advisory Council resigned
Despite “extensive lockdowns” in many cities, many office workers, especially those who work for private companies, continue to work in their offices
Despite “extensive lockdowns” in many cities, many office workers, especially those who work for private companies, continue to work in their offices

Iran has introduced tough new restrictions in the country’s largest cities, and yet videos and photographs posted on social networks show in Tehran, dubbed the “coronavirus exchange crossroad,” and in other cities, there are still large numbers of people on the streets, public transport is crowded, and, despite people being officially required to work at home, many office workers, especially those who work for private companies, continue to report to their places of work. Traffic levels are the same as they were before restrictions went into effect.

From the morning of Saturday, November 21, extensive lockdowns got underway in 160 cities in a red state of alert and other restrictions were also imposed in 208 orange and 80 yellow cities. According to officials from the National Coronavirus Taskforce, violators are being forced to bear the consequences, which include the shutting down of businesses, fines, dismissal from jobs and so on. Individuals whose cars are registered in one town but then travel to another town in an orange state of alert will be charged a fine of 500,000 tomans ($121). The fine for entering red cities is twice that amount.

In red cities, a curfew on traffic is being enforced from 9pm to 4am. People who have tested positive must pay a fine of 200,000 tomans ($49) if they refuse to quarantine. In cities in a yellow and orange state of alert, half of government employees are required to report to their offices, and the rest must work remotely. In cities deemed to be in a red state of alert, a third of government employees must report to work in person.

The Tehran Chamber of Guilds announced that, due to new lockdowns, only 30 percent of businesses are able to remain open as of November 21; 70 percent of them will be required to close down for two weeks.

The daily number of fatalities continues to top 400 and, out of 40,000 tests conducted in Iran per day, approximately 13,000 are positive — a strong indicator that the surge of coronavirus continues to gain strength. Many people who are infected with coronavirus and show symptoms but have not been tested or have tested negative are not included in official tallies of Covid-19 fatalities. Health officials have themselves admitted that between 30 and 40 percent of negative test results are wrong.


Quick Appointments Following High-Profile Resignations

Just before “comprehensive lockdowns” across Iran went into effect, Reza Malekzadeh, the Deputy Health Minister for Research, and Ali Nobakht Haghighi, the newly-appointed secretary for the Coronavirus Advisory Council, resigned in protest against critical statements made by health minister Saeed Namaki.

The resignations of Malekzadeh and Nobakht were apparently triggered by comments Namaki made during a speech in Isfahan, in which he sharply attacked his ministry’s Research Department, dismissing 98 percent of its research as “useless,” and adding that one of its predictions about the spread of coronavirus was incorrect.

In his letter of resignation, Reza Malekzadeh described Namaki’s management of the pandemic as “very wrong” and “very defective.” He said Namaki’s statements about the development of the coronavirus vaccine in Iran “were unscientific and hasty” and cited the “baseless claims by Namaki and the Food and Drug administration about the effectiveness of herbal medicine” and Namaki’s “inability to correctly understand research” as reasons for his resignation.

“Whenever the number of infections and fatalities has risen you have shirked responsibility and whenever the numbers have dropped slightly you have claimed you can teach the world how to manage the coronavirus crisis,” wrote Malekzadeh. He also accused Namaki of turning the subject of a made-in-Iran vaccine into a “circus.”

Just a few hours later, Iranian media reported that the secretary for the Coronavirus Advisory Council, Ali Nobakht Haghighi, had also stepped down. In his letter of resignation, Haghighi wrote that his decision had been prompted by Namaki’s statements in Isfahan “lambasting medical science and doctors.” Haghighi referred to Namaki sarcastically as “your excellency,” and added that he had unfortunately been left  “with no option” but to terminate his work with the minister and his ministry.

On Saturday, November 21, Namaki appointed Farid Najafi, a professor of epidemiology at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, to replace Malekzadeh as his deputy in charge of research. In his letter appointing Najafi, Namaki did not miss the opportunity to retaliate against Malekzadeh and Nobakht, albeit indirectly. “Make sure that in carrying out scientific research and studies, unscientific elements such as herd immunity...are not repeated,” he wrote.

While health officials were exchanging these barbed words, Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi, president of Iran’s Medical Council, fired his own shot across the health ministry’s bow. The week before, Kianoush Jahanpour, the spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, had claimed that four herbal medications effective at treating Covid-19 symptoms were ready and that two of them had been approved. Zafarghandi asked the Food and Drug Administration to provide the Medical Council with the scientific evidence to lead to the approval these drugs.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran, advocates and manufacturers of so-called “Islamic” or “traditional” medicine have championed remedies including herbal drugs, gaining the support of a number of websites and news agencies affiliated with the regime.


Nearing 80,000 Coronavirus Tests in Iran

Alireza Raeesi, spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce, reported that higher numbers of coronavirus tests were due to be carried out in Iran. Recently, the number of tests per day was increased from 25,000 to 40,000. Raeesi said, “We have received tests that can be carried out quickly and which have been made in Iran, and we will distribute them to all treatment centers. We expect the number of tests will reach 80,000 by next week and 100,000 in two weeks.”


Provinces Round-up

With the death of seven Covid-19 patients in the 24-hour period spanning November 20 and November 21, the official coronavirus death toll in Kermanshah province rose to 1,161. In the same 24-hour period, 120 new Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in the province, bringing the total number of hospitalizations in Kermanshah to 928. Out of this number, 172 were being treated at ICUs; 58 of these individuals were reported to be in a serious condition.

Out of the 36 cities in Fars province, 18 are in a red state of alert. According to media reports, only cars entering the provincial capital of Shiraz are being screened for out-of-city license plates, whereas, according to restrictions that started on November 21, travel between cities in a red state of alert is banned. Dr. Abdolrasoul Hemmati, vice president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, said every hour one person dies from coronavirus-related illness in Fars province.

It was reported that the nighttime curfew on traffic had been lifted in the northern province of Gilan. “The ban on traffic from 9pm to 4am that was to go into effect in red cities has been lifted until further notice,” announced Mahmoud Ghasemnejad, director of Gilan’s Coronavirus Taskforce. “People of this province will face no problems in driving during these hours.” He did not provide any justification or reason for this decision.


Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics

In her daily briefing for November 21, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:

Crowds on Public Transport Despite Tehran Lockdown


Dr. Lari also reported that all 31 Iranian provinces are in red, orange or yellow states of alert.

Crowds on Public Transport Despite Tehran Lockdown


This is part of IranWire's coronavirus chronology. Read the full chronology


Special Features

Deputy Health Minister Accuses His Boss of Incompetence and Resigns

November 21, 2020
Hasan Jafari
6 min read
Deputy Health Minister Accuses His Boss of Incompetence and Resigns